ContactCovid is long over now and Chris and I are immersing ourselves into ACT prep once again. We have both stayed busy studying and developing materials but have neglected our website. Life got busy and other things took up our time. The upside to this is that we stepped back and reexamined our strategies. We do this periodically anyway, but since things have gone back to mostly normal we felt it was time for a deep dive. That is SOOOO important with a test that constantly evolves. We strive to stay on the cutting edge and shortcuts and strategies have to change along with the test. ACT works tirelessly to make shortcuts and tips ineffective on newer tests to keep scores competitive, so it is imperative to make sure your advice is current and applicable so students can earn the maximum possible score.
An example of advice that has become obsolete is the old math tip about substituting the answers into the problem to solve by trial and error rather than working out a problem. Back in the day that tip was pure gold but the ACT writers modified the questions so that rarely, if ever, works these days. The biggest insight on the math test these days is that the ACT writers are getting better ever day at disguising middle school math problems so test takers can't recognize what type of problem is being asked. Test takers consistantly miss questions THAT THEY ALREADY POSSESS THE MATH SKILLS to solve! Students with average or higher math skills benefit much more from learning to see through the fog and recognize the problem type rather than learning new math skills and memorizing formulas.
The science test has doubled down on asking questions that require referring to more than one source to answer. Rather than reading one chart or locating the information in one graph, many questions require finding something in one spot to able to figure out the answer with information from a chart or graph. At the same time graphs are becoming more complex and confusing. Old-time advice to only look at charts and graphs to save time by not reading the passage doesn't work any longer. Test takers need guidance and practice reading complex graphs and strategies for knowing which questions to attempt and which ones to skip. Six unrelated science passages, forty questions and a 35-minute time limit contribute to making this the section my students dread the most. If any portion of the test is in dire need of strategy and pacing tips, it is the science section.
This type of information can sound depressing to test takers, but I get excited at the opportunities it presents. Chris and I have always said that prepping for the ACT is like fighting an arms race with the test writers. If we can arm our students with the strategies and specific practice they need then the test becomes an opportunity to succeed instead of a burden to be endured.
Watch this space. We are working on some exciting things we'll share with you in the near future. In the meantime we are available for individual or group tutoring. Contact us for more information.